Congress Returns After August Recess

Lawmakers have returned to Capitol Hill after their August recess. One of the first items on the House’s agenda is a markup of legislation to revise the reach of the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility requirements (employer mandate). Also at the forefront in September, both the House and Senate must reach an agreement to fund the IRS and the entire federal government. Current funding for the federal government will expire after September 30, 2015.

PPACA

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to mark up the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act (HR 1624) The bill amends the ACA to include employers with 51 to 100 employees as applicable large employers for purposes of ACA Health Insurance Marketplaces. States have the option to treat these employers as small employers. Currently under the ACA, employers with 51 to 100 employees are treated as small employers, but before January 1, 2016, states have the option to treat them as large employers. Under ACA, health insurance offered in the small group market must meet certain requirements that do not apply to the large group market, including the requirement to cover the essential health benefits.

IRS Budget

House and Senate appropriators have voted to reduce the IRS’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2016 but by differing amounts. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government on July 22 approved $10.475 billion for the IRS for FY 2016, a cut of $470 million, or four percent, below the FY 2015 enacted level. The House on June 17 approved $10.1 billion to fund the IRS for FY 2016, representing a cut of approximately $838 million, compared to FY 2015.

Medical Device Tax.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has long advocated for repeal of the ACA’s medical device excise tax and may try to move legislation this Fall. In January, Hatch and 10 other senators introduced the Medical Device Access and Innovation Protection Bill (Sen 149). Opponents of the tax have had more success so far in the House. In June, the House approved the Protect Medical Innovation Bill of 2015 (HR 160), which would repeal the medical device excise tax.

 

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